I spent a couple of weeks in Riga and tried to see if it catered for us vegans. Here’s what I found.
Riga, the Latvian capital, isn’t known as a vegan friendly city, and that’s because it isn’t.
Still, great vegan food, though not widespread, is available. You just need to know where to find it!
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Terapija – Vegan restaurant
This is one of the few purely vegan restaurants in Riga. It’s a large, beautiful space. The soft music in the background, the plants and the natural light give it a very calm vibe.
The menu includes special deals for breakfast and lunch, plus a general menu of starters, mains and desserts.
I tried their seitan wok, which was a little spicy (a good thing). Other mains include a falafel plate, vegan burgers and wraps.
A great place to have a meal or chil with a vegan dessert.
Bahjan Cafe – Vegan restaurant
A vegan restaurant in the city centre offering salads, soups, mains and desserts, all vegan.
It’s a large space with both tables and sofas and some outdoor seating and it was quite full around lunchtime. The atmosphere is pretty chilled even when the place is full.
The menu offers original flavours, mostly Asian. I ordered the excellent noodles and got a complimentary appetizer which was a very tasty surprise.
Fat Pumpkin – Mostly vegan place in the old town
A lovely vegetarian (mostly vegan) restaurant in the old town with excellent food and great service.
It has an elegant interior with an orange colour theme and a pleasant atmosphere.
Though the location is very central, it may be be tricky to find with Google Maps, so just look for the orange umbrellas outside.
The menu is almost entirely vegan. Ingredients are listed clearly on the menu, which is available in English, and the staff speak English too.
I had a wrap that came with salad and chips. Everything was well made and demonstrates how a seemingly simple meal can be made with great care.
I also had an amazing raw vegan cake with cherries and chocolate.
When you’re in the old town, this place is a must.
Raw Garden aka The Beginnings
As the name suggests, this is a raw food restaurant. It’s classified as vegetarian on Happy Cow, but the menu looked completely vegan. I found that they do use honey, so it’s not 100% vegan and you may want to ask about that before you order.
I tried the delicious marinated tofu burger with homemade pickles. They also have a tempting display of raw desserts. I had the mango cake that looked like cheesecake and was served with strawberries and blueberries.
MiiT Coffee – Vegan friendly
A cool café with mostly vegetarian food and some vegan options, both sweet and savoury.
It’s a good place to have a quick, light meal and a good coffee. It’s also a good café to work from, with free wifi and large laptop friendly tables.
I arrived in the afternoon and tried their vegan sandwich which was tasty. You do need to ask what’s vegan and what isn’t as it’s not always clear, but they have friendly English speaking staff, so just ask.
A wonderful shop, pretty much a must if you’re staying in Riga and want to cook for yourself, or just get some vegan snacks. Vegan food isn’t so common in Riga, so this shop was a very nice surprise.
They have tofu and all sorts of meat substitutes, vegan ice cream, vegan chocolate, beans and lentils and much more. It’s also a good place to get your plant based milk.
The prices were a very reasonable, I didn’t notice any overpriced items.
Riga Central Market
One thing I cannot stand about markets is the sight and smell of meat and fish that’s pretty much imposed on you as you walk through the market. Not in Riga though!
The central market in Riga (Rīgas Centrāltirgus) is huge. It’s one of the largest covered markets in Europe and it’s composed of 5 halls (called pavilions), plus an outdoor market.
You are spared the unfortunate sights and smells simply thanks to the separation between the fruit and veg section and the meat and fish sections.
The market typically offers seasonal local produce at low prices. The fruit and veg pavilion also has pickles, herbs, beans and legumes, dried fruit and even garden seeds. In the outdoor market you’ll find more fruit and vegetables as well as flowers.
This is not a vegan restaurant, it’s not even vegetarian, but they have vegan and vegetarian options on the menu each day.
Though I wouldn’t normally recommend places that sell meat, this place can come in handy in a city like Riga that doesn’t cater that well for vegans (yet).
It’s a very popular restaurant, so I was tipped not to arrive at mealtimes. In the afternoon it wasn’t too full.
They publish their weekly menu on Facebook every Monday, so you can decide on what day to go. All the vegan options are clearly marked in green and include a soup and normally a curry as a main. Vegetarian options are also marked. You can choose between a small or large portion and have a relatively inexpensive meal.
General Tips for Vegans in Riga
It seems like vegan food is still considered specialty food in Riga. Riga is not an expensive city, but when you compare the prices of vegan food to the general prices at non-veg restaurants, you’ll find that you’re often paying more.
I stayed at an Airbnb flat with a kitchen, which made my stay much easier. If you decide to cook for yourself, then the central market is a good place to buy fresh local produce at low prices, as well as bean and lentils. Buckwheat is very popular in this region and you will find it at any supermarket.
Soy milk, rice milk and almond milk are available at larger supermarkets. Look for them in the health food section. If you want a larger range, you can go to Dabas Stacija, as they have a good selection of plant based milks and are sometimes cheaper than supermarkets.
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